Blog: Entries From 2008

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Happy New Year! - Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Ok, I'm several days late with the Happy New Year, but I haven't posted anything in a while. Here are the highlights of what I've been up to these past couple weeks:
This year promises to be filled with change, as I prepare to make the transition to full-time work and get ready to move up to the Bay Area next week. Whatever happens with relationships, job and living, I know God has a plan in everything!
Moving Completed! - Friday, January 18, 2008
I am typing this entry sitting in my new (temporary) apartment in Santa Clara in the Bay Area. The move was, for the most part, pretty smooth. Priscilla even made a surprise visit in the morning to see me off, and being late for work because of it. I guess she really does care me. ;p

So I'm in this 2nd-floor 1-bedroom apartment in a large community called Mansion Grove. The place is fully furnished, so I have cooking and eating equipment, a queen size bed, a dining table, and a coffee table with a couch. Right now I'm sitting on the floor with my computer hooked up to the 22" widescreen TV. If I could get a wireless keyboard and mouse, I'd be able to surf the web from the couch. And I wouldn't have wires streching across the room for me to trip over at night. ;p

Yeah so.. it's been a long and tiring but rewarding day. Right now everything is kind of crazy but I'm looking forward to getting settled in, unpacking, and starting my new job this coming Monday! And of course apartment hunting to find a permanent place to move into after my free month's lodging is up!
My First Week of Work - Friday, January 25, 2008
Well one week has passed since I started working at Applied Signal Technology, and I'm still here, so apparently I haven't done anything too bad. :)

The week started with a full day of orientation on Monday, during which I was given a huge stack of paperwork to read and complete. I also got three free lunches in a row- Monday with my two managers, Tuesday after a welcome briefing for new hires, and Wednesday at the monthly company lunch, at which I boxed a lot of food to take to work on Thursday, so I guess that counts too!

Workwise, I've been placed on the several-person Switch Control team, the group that writes software to control network switches. The learning curve is very steep, and the first couple days were pretty tough, but oh how much more I know now compared to a week ago. One team member, Michael (and there are actually two Michaels and a Mike on the team, so maybe I should say one of the Michaels), has been my quasi-mentor and helping get up to speed. I'm getting bite-sized projects of increasing difficulty as I'm becoming more familiar with concepts and terminology (and there's LOTS of that) related to the project. I'll be a guru in no time!

I'm really enjoying the organized but relaxed environment at the company. The friendly social atmosphere and people-oriented mentality is one of the things that attracted me in the first place. Every person gets his/her own office, often shared with an officemate. My officemate is a really cool guy who started a week before I did, but unfortunately they relocated him today. Maybe they'll put in a new hire with me next week and then I'll be the one with one week's experience!

The company also tries to make sure its employees' needs are met. Relocation assistance has set me up with temporary housing and a rental car, the company offers 100% reimbursement for grad school (which I need to decide if I want to do), and free medical and dental coverage. We have a facilities request helpdesk system where we can put in a request for supplies and furniture. If I need an additional whiteboard in my office, want the desk behind me removed, or want my table adjusted, it's taken care of pretty quickly. We also have an IT department that takes care of computer issues, but unfortunately they seem to be a little slow because of understaffing.

So overall, things have been good. I'm really enjoying my job and being independent for the first time. Of course, my family (particularly my dad) has helped me immensely during this transition, and I owe them so much and am certainly going to miss them.
New Apartment - Sunday, February 3, 2008
After a long bout of phone calls, reading good and creepy reviews online, and touring many places, my search for a new apartment ended when I decided on the Olive Garden Apartments in Sunnyvale. Now I won't be homeless when my corporate housing term is over in two weeks. ;p

I got a 672 square-foot, 1-bedroom unit that's newly remodeled. Everything is brand new and looks beautiful. It's situated on the second floor of a 2-story complex, so I won't suffer the noise of people walking above me, as is the case in the apartment I'm in now. Also, the complex is just under two miles away from my company for an easy commute, or a good jog should I decide to get in shape again!

For this fine unit I'll be paying $1455 a month on a six-month lease. My first choice was to get a studio, but most places I talked to didn't have studios, and the studios I did find seemed a little iffy.

So here's a little more info about the Olive Garden, which shares its name incidentally with the Italian restaurant chain:

The complex is semi-old, having been built in either the 60's or 70's. Some negative reviews complain that the fixtures/appliances are old, but that doesn't apply to me since I'm in a remodeled unit. The facilities are also kept up with two heated pools and a recreation room with no less than three pool tables.

Most people seem to enjoy living at Olive Garden. According to the managers, half of the residents have lived there for 20 years or more, and one person (who is 98 years old) is an original tenant from when the place opened. The place does seem very tranquil and loud music and wild parties are frowned upon. Security seems good with gated access to the parking lot, a patrol unit that comes four times a night, the Sunnyvale City Hall and a police station down the street two blocks away, and the area being on the low end of Sunnyvale PD's crime statistics (Sunnyvale being one of the safest cities in the country per capita notwithstanding).

So all that's left to do is to sign the lease this Friday and coordinate with the moving company to bring my furniture up from LA!
SmarterChild - Not So Smart - Thursday, February 21, 2008
Yeah, we know he... or it, rather.. is a hack job built on simple pattern matching. But could it have been written any sloppier?

Frequently when I'm taking a break at work, I'll play the "word jumble" game with SmarterChild to keep my unscrambling skills honed. SC does a decent job. Most of the time. Unfortunately it seems like the game is programmed with only one accepted answer, as I found out when it rejected "mutagen" in favor of "augment."

Also, the engine has a filter for "bad words" that takes precedence over everything else, including games. Note the following transcript from a session of word jumble, and emphasis mine:

SC: Here's a good one: IKINLLG.
Me: killing
SC: That's way uncool.
Me: ok (I'm sorry, apparently I have an obsession for killing)
SC: Well think about it then. (Thanks for the lecture)
Me: word jumble (Restarting the game)
SC: You still haven't answered this one: IKINLLG.
Me: dunno
SC: The word is KILLING.

Unfortunately I haven't found a good textual word scramble game elsewhere. (If anybody knows of one, let me know!) Maybe I'll have to write my own one of these days. ;)
A Month's Recap - Monday, March 17, 2008
Wow, I haven't written anything here in almost a month. This past month has been busy, exciting and tiring. Here's a recap of what's happened:

Priscilla and Audrey drove up at the end of February to visit. They slept over Friday night and Sunday night and I made food for them that they didn't really like (cough, ingrates!). While Audrey was down in Monterey visiting a friend, Priscilla and I explored the Sunnyvale City Center, visited CCIC Mountain View, and stayed at home making food and listening to online broadcasts about relationships.

Work at AST is going well. I'm definitely keeping busy. Last week I even got to interview an applicant over the phone.

My replacement officemate is a guy named Dave. He's pretty chill, and we're always making fun of each other. Unfortunately the higher ups have seen fit to relocate him as well, which will make him the second officemate who's left me. I guess I have a knack at scaring people away...

AST has already started my application for a government security clearance, which is interesting because a lot of people don't have theirs started until they've been here several months. As part of the process I got my fingerprints taken. I guess I won't be robbing banks any time soon.

I've also visited a few churches but at this point I like Great Exchange (GrX) the best because the messages have really spoken to me. They have a dozen young adult small groups so I should be able to find one that fits me. This Sunday I had lunch with one of those groups at this Korean tofu house, and they paid for me (despite my protests). I'll check them out this Thursday; they meet at 7pm at one of the guys' apartment in Sunnyvale. I've also been going to Transformers, the young adult group that Steve and Shirley host at their place every other Sunday.

Other than that, I've been doing a smorgasbord routine of shopping for home furnishings and groceries, cooking, reading, web surfing, working out and eating with people. I've been pretty tired lately, but I think the main reason is that I still haven't gotten out of the college mentality of going to bed late. Once I force myself to get over that, I'll be in good shape.
Summer Movies - Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Right now there are two summer movies I'm looking forward to seeing: Hancock and The Dark Knight.

As proof that I've been out of touch with TV and theatrical movies, I hadn't heard of Hancock until I stumbled upon a stolen whale clip from the trailer on Youtube, which led me to find a (still stolen) full trailer. I like most Will Smith movies, and this one looks like it'll be pretty funny.

As for The Dark Knight, I really enjoyed Batman Begins, and the 5-minute Joker teaser I saw when Priscilla and I went to watch I Am Legend was pretty cool. I have high expectations for The Dark Knight; I hope I'm not disappointed!
People Keep Visiting Me - Monday, April 21, 2008
Since Priscilla left her job at Unitone for a better, less-dramatic one at National Technical Systems, she gave herself a well-deserved week of rehab-- err, vacation-- and decided to visit me with her parents from Friday to Tuesday of last week.

On Saturday we drove up to San Francisco to check out Pier 39 and Coit Tower. The scenery at Pier 39 was not as unique as any of us remembered. The place looked like a section of Universal Studios with its chain restaurants, a bungee harness you could bounce around in for $10, and even an NFL shop. Seems like it's become just another tourist trap without any semblance of real culture. Fortunately we found some folks selling 30 minute motorboat tours for $5 and got to see a good deal of the Fisherman's Wharf area.

After that we drove up nearby Telegraph Hill, atop which is Coit Tower. We spent considerably less money there (around $16 on admission for the four of us), but I enjoyed it more than Pier 39. From the top of the tower, which puts you higher than everything else except some skyscrapers, you have a great panoramic view of the city.

During the rest of the time her parents were up here, they were having meals with old friends, taking a ton of pictures, and washing my dishes for me. I had a lot of fun, and it was kind of them trying to serve me in any way they could.

So far Priscilla has been up here twice (the first time with Audrey). My dad and brother were up with me the first week, and my mom is flying up tomorrow and staying for a few days. Then my parents up are coming up for somebody's wedding in May, and we invited Priscilla to fill Aaron's spot since he's going to be away at a retreat. With all these people continuously visiting me, it doesn't really make sense for me to go back and visit now. I guess I'll have to wait until people stop visiting me. =)
Google and Iron Man - Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with some of the guys from my fellowship for a time of sharing over dinner at Google. They meet every other Wednesday to share with each other how they're doing spiritually and whatnot. Drew works at Google so he gets us free dinner and we find a conference room. It was great fellowshipping with those guys and obviously there are some things better discussed when there aren't girls present. ;)

It was also my first time on the Google campus, and aside from getting questioned by a security guard on the way in, it was pretty cool getting to finally see the place.

Then last Friday I saw Iron Man with some of the same guys. I'd never gotten into the Iron Man story so I didn't really know what to expect. Fortunately that movie really rocked what little expecations I went in with. The storyline, character development and acting were superb. Robert Downey Jr. is one of the most colorful actors I've seen on the screen!
My Favorite Letter in Scrabble - Thursday, May 15, 2008
My favorite letter in Scrabble is by far the X. Worth an entire 8 points, the X is one of the highest scoring tiles in the game (the others being J for 8 points, and Q and Z both worth 10 points -- all having an occurrence of 1). I've found that more often than not, a well-placed X can change or seal the outcome of a game for the lucky player who gets it.

Despite its high point value, the X can be combined with any vowel to form a two-letter word (AX, EX, OX, XI, and XU). It's therefore possible to lay an X to form words in two directions. Put the X on a triple-letter space and it gets scored as 24 points in each direction, for a total of 48 points for this one letter alone. Not too shabby, methinks.
Memorial Day Weekend Fun - Tuesday, May 27, 2008
My parents and Priscilla came up over the Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately Aaron couldn't come, as he was at a youth retreat.

On Saturday we attended a wedding for Johnson and Mimi Ng up in a beautiful location in the Oakland hills. I forget how I am related to Johnson, and I don't really know him but apparently he knows my family. I liked the fact that it was a small wedding - probably less than 100 guests - but I am accustomed to Christian weddings, so when the female minister (who was dressed somewhat like a hippie) said "We are gathered here today in the spirit of love," it felt a little... odd. =)

Sunday was Priscilla's birthday and our 1.5 year anniversary, so I took her on a surprise trip down to the Monterey Peninsula. Our first stop was the Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey, where we spent half an hour walking the wharf and getting the iconic clam chowder bowls. From there we hopped onto the coastal part of the 17 Mile Drive where we stopped at half a dozen points and took lots of gorgeous pictures since we're both so good looking and all.

Finally our trip ended at the white-sand beach in the city of Carmel, where we watched the sun set behind the rolling hills caressing the ocean's profile, and the waves crashed gently upon the sand at our feet as the dying sun lit the sky in one last fiery blaze of passion.

Then we walked along the shore in the near-dark despite her protests that it was too cold. Man, I'm such a great boyfriend.
The Rising Gas Prices - Thursday, May 29, 2008
Gas prices in my area climbed a further 14 cents to $4.23 in two days, and there's no indication that the end is in sight. Everybody's disgruntled, and businesses and airlines are finding it ever more costly to operate -- and passing those costs back down to the consumer. At this rate, we'll soon be seeing gas selling at $5 a gallon, and even that will quickly become a distant memory.

But Chris Pummer, a writer for MarketWatch, remains optimistic. He cites eight reasons we'll rejoice when gas hits $8 a gallon. Undoubtedly the changes and innovations brought on by these continuously rising gas prices won't happen overnight, but I do think more progress is to come. For one, I'm seeing more people riding bikes, and I'm looking to buy a pair of rollerblades for commuting to work. =)

This might be a laughable notion, for now!
Cell Phone Family Plan - Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Another billing period for my family's AT&T wireless plan just ended, and I thought it'd be fun to take a look at how many minutes everybody's been using. Here is the data in a nice graphical format.

Cell phone family plan usage

My mom looks like the most consistent user, with about the same percentages in the daytime and night & weekend categories. Aaron and I are almost mirror images of each other- him dominating peak hours when he's calling friends and scheduling hangouts, and me with time to chat mostly only at night and on weekends.

The fact that I use more monthly minutes than Aaron and my mom combined is interesting. Although probably 85% of those minutes are used talking to a certain person, part of the reason my usage is so comparatively high is definitely because I don't have a usable landline.
Funky Bowling - Monday, June 23, 2008
This weekend's been a lot of fun. On Friday, Raymond flew up to interview at AST. Unsurprisingly, he aced his interview. In fact Raymond answered one of his interviewer's questions so fast, that the interviewer ran out of things to ask and admitted that that's never happened to him before. Raymond postponed his return flight until Sunday and hung out with us over the weekend.

On Saturday Raymond, Kenny and I drove up to UC Berkeley to visit David, Richard and Minh.

Then today Minh and David came down to visit us, and the five of us checked out Minh's luxurious apartment in San Mateo and had Chicago pizza in Palo Alto. Then all of us minus Minh went bowling at Palo Alto Bowl. That place is a bit run down with its lanes scratched, and a scoring system on crack.

Bowling was hilarious. The system would often not recognize our second throw, so it would give us three throws in a frame. I knocked down nine pins in a frame, but it scored as a spare. In another frame, the system completely skipped my turn and gave me a generous strike. Kenny got a strike in the last frame, which got counted as a double strike. Raymond's instant gutterballs made the system give him free retries out of sympathy. And one of Kenny's throws carried over to me, so I started a frame with 7 pins.

I quickly realized why we were the only people bowling there. :)
Polygraph - Saturday, July 19, 2008
As part of getting a security clearance for my job at AST, I needed to be polygraphed for our "customer" to determine that I'm not a threat to counter-intelligence. This past Tuesday I went in for a polygraph and failed -- or rather my results were "inconclusive." I tend to over-think questions, and I projected feelings of guilt for the things I've done that they don't care about, onto things I haven't done that they do care about. And the worse I did with the questions, the guiltier and more stressed I felt, resulting in a downward spiral.

Needless to say, I felt pretty bad afterwards and entertained fears of them thinking I'm a criminal, and not being able to get a clearance and as a result losing my job.

But my officemate Dave and later Priscilla gave me words of wisdom. Dave reminded me that even in the worst-case scenario of losing my job, I would still have that which is most important -- my life -- and I could easily find work elsewhere. Priscilla showed me that most of my fears were unfounded, and that I wasn't trusting in God. I was reminded that everything that happens is according to God's sovereign plan, and my responsibility is to do my part and leave to rest to Him. I was also reminded that he has paid the price for my sins -- past, present, and future -- and that I shouldn't harbor feelings of guilt.

I went back Thursday morning for a re-test and, despite still being nervous, seemingly did just fine. I'm grateful for God's grace, and I'm glad that I can trust that He has a plan for me even when I can't see through the darkness.
Moved, Again - Thursday, August 14, 2008
With the lease on my Olive Garden apartment ending today, I've moved into a 3-bedroom townhouse in Mountain View with Kenny and Fred. The rent there is $2050, and I'm paying $700 for the master bedroom since I have the biggest stuff. The rooms and storage spaces are smaller than at my apartment, so it's a slight squeeze trying to fit everything in with two other people, but the significantly lower rent and companionship more than make up for it.

We moved all our large items this past Saturday, with Minh and Dave helping. Originally I had rented a 16 foot truck from Budget, and called the day before to make sure it'd be ready for pickup. To my horror, when I showed up on Saturday I was told that all they had available was a small moving van, or a 24 foot truck. The former being impractical, I had to go with the latter. So there I was, cruising down the freeway at a whopping 50 MPH, trying not to side-swipe anybody because of the limited visibility from inside the cabin. But the larger truck turned out to be beneficial, and the move was expedient, with the hardest part trying to get my heavy desk up the stairs at my townhouse.

Priscilla also gave me a nice surprise by dropping in unexpectedly, after she had told me she was going camping for the weekend. She drove up at 4am, and had worked out a plan with Kenny to make sure I was out while she snuck into my apartment. I guess that's her payback for me conspiring with her parents and Deborah to surprise her in June. I guess she really does like me. Just a little. ;p
Crunch Time at Work - Wednesday, August 27, 2008
This past week has been busier than ever. Last week, one of our customers made a last minute "request" to see a major part of Switch Control, our product, that we didn't even have finished or ready to show. So this week my whole team has been scrambling to move things forward. With the support of some people in our Utah office, I've been in charge of integrating a GUI viewer with our product. And I've become a guru at building Switch Control and know more of the pitfalls since I've messed up a couple times. =)

The workload has since subsided since we got everything working in time for the customer meeting. But it was cool seeing everybody pulling double their weight without complaining. When I left last night around 10pm, one guy was still there fixing things so that the guy who comes in early would be able to work without stuff breaking on him. I definitely noticed a lot of teamwork effort this week.
Surprise, Surprise - Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I visited LA two weeks ago during Labor Day weekend, where I spent most of that time with a certain someone. She thought I would be arriving sometime Friday night; however I actually took all of Friday off from work and drove down at 4am to surprise her. That was my uh, revenge, for her surprising me the same way on the Saturday I was moving! So around 11am I showed up at her workplace and gave her a (practical) gag gift: a box of tissues. Too bad she had a surprise for me that I ruined: since I led her to believe that I was arriving sometime in the evening, she was planning on TP'ing my room before then.

During the weekend we watched three movies (Away From Her, Phantom of the Opera, and 300), went to the bookstore, cooked, and were generally blissfully unproductive. That'll change when we get old, I'm certain.

Then, if seeing me four days in a row wasn't enough, Priscilla and her parents spontaneously decided to visit me up in the Bay Area this past weekend. Her parents didn't have their normal Sunday choir practice so they decided to take a vacation and check out the many sights along Pacific Coast Highway. I had a lot of fun with them, and they even forced me into letting them buy me a fan for my room, which I have yet to use since the weather just started getting cold again. I guess I'll have to store it until next summer. ;)
Cleared - Wednesday, September 17, 2008
After only five months of an extensive background investigation consisting of investigators interviewing my family, friends, co-workers and supervisors, countless but sporadic back-and-forth communication, and a couple of almost-traumatic polygraphs, I received my security clearance and was briefed today.

The whole conferment was rather unceremonious. Our customer just one day gave a verbal OK, and that was it. No parade. No balloons or a cake. I could've settled for a measly cookie.

Anyway, I don't think there will be many changes to my current job duties. Having a clearance will just let me get over hurdles and expedite things when trying to do work that involves sensitive data, which will empower me to be a better worker and make everybody happier. But I do think it'll get me a $200k pay raise, and let me find out who really killed JFK.
Goodbye WaMu - Another One Bites the Dust - Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sad to hear news today of WaMu collapsing. Since their assets are being sold to JPMorgan Chase, I hope they will keep the WaMu brand and level of service that people like me have grown to enjoy. I don't want to have a "Chase" bank account; two Chase credit cards is already enough.

Credit crunch. Mortgage crisis. Economy in turmoil. When will it end? Compared to many other people, I have it easy. I have no mouths to feed but my own. No home mortgage to worry about paying off. I'm not rich, but my quality of life is pretty good. For that, I am blessed.

Still, there's no doubt these are tough times for everybody. But my faith gives me hope. In God we trust.
Another Fun Weekend - Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Priscilla's parents had a retreat in Monterey this weekend, so she decided to visit me during that time.

On Saturday I picked her up from San Jose Airport and we took a stroll around Valley Fair and Santana Row. Of course, since we're both very frugal we didn't buy anything. In the evening we went to Capitol Drive-In, the last remaining drive-in theatre in the Bay Area, and watched Eagle Eye. The movie was so-so, but it was more about the drive-in experience. The ticket entitled us to a double-feature, with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull playing after Eagle Eye; we declined to stay.

After church on Sunday we hung out at the Sunnyvale Library, then went jogging at Lake Shoreline in Mountain View, then made fricasse of lamb according to a recipe I found. The food tasted pretty good, but I think we messed up the egg sauce at the end.

On Monday, while I was away at work, Priscilla made basa fillet, cheesy turkey pasta, and pear salad for me, and so-eagerly TP'ed my room. That afternoon, her parents came to pick her up, and her mom did a photoshoot of us for the cover of some Asian newsletter she helps with.

I think we had a pretty active weekend.
GrX Building, Planning Commission Hearing - Thursday, October 9, 2008
The church I've been attending, Great Exchange Covenant Church (GrX), has, since its inception several years ago, not had a building to call its own. This has been a burden as we have to set up and pack up our equipment at the place we're renting every week, and a few months ago our equipment was actually stolen from our storage truck. The lack of our own building has also made it less effective for hosting ministries during the week.

Recently we entered into an agreement to lease and hopefully eventually purchase a building in a light industrial zone in Santa Clara. However, due to the zoning, we cannot assemble there unless we have a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the city. Last night we went before the Santa Clara City Planning Commission to try to make our case for getting the CUP.

I was encouraged to see somewhere around 200 (about a third of the total membership) from GrX at the hearing. We totally packed out the council chambers, which had a max occupancy of 150, and members of the fire department actually came and made some of us go out into the lobby. We definitely made an impression on the council with our presence.

Dalan Chan, our Operations Director, spoke on behalf of the church and made a case that we are a good use for the land in several different aspects. A short video was shown, 200 signed petitions and letters from businesses in favor of our CUP were referenced, and a long line of audience members spoke on behalf of the church. We had 13 people scheduled to speak, but I think the actual number who went up was three times that! There was a small handful of people, mostly from neighboring businesses, who spoke in opposition to our use of the building. The portion of the session regarding us lasted no less than three hours! It would've gone on even longer had the council not cut our line of speakers short.

The two things the council took issue with were our shortage of parking (we'd have too small of a parking lot if our projected growth held in a few year's time), and that "sensitive receptors," children and elderly, might be exposed to the kinds of chemicals that neighboring companies (now or any time in the future) would be permitted to use under the light industrial zoning laws. The council didn't make a decision on our CUP; instead, they voted unanimously to have their research staff look into these areas further for up to 90 days.

It was disappointing to not get the CUP outright, but I feel the council's concerns were legitimate. We had come up with solutions, but they currently are in the form of unimplemented plans and verbal agreements. Hopefully we can get things more formalized to adequately mitigate the council's concerns. GrX has so many paths for serving, and it's been encouraging to see so many people coming together for this common goal. I know that God has some great plans for this church.
UCLA Career Fair - Saturday, October 25, 2008
I can't believe it's been just over a year since the last Fall Engineering and Technical Fair at UCLA, where I met reps from Applied Signal who were responsible for leading me to this job. This past Wednesday, I again participated in the career fair, but on the other side of the table - representing AST and telling students why we're such an awesome company to work for.

I had a lot of fun being a recruiter for the day, and I collected some great resumes... and some not so great ones. In a sense, I saw different stages of myself in those students - from the freshman me who had only unrelated cashier experience at Toys R Us, to the junior me with a polished resume who sort of knew what he was doing, and the senior me who'd seen enough to be able to get by.

But the best part of the trip was that I got to go home courtesy of AST. Tuesday night, after landing at Burbank and picking up a rental car (a Pontiac G6), I surprised Priscilla at her home. She had had a rough day, and that combined with the surprise of me randomly showing up, caused her to break down and soil my shirt with her tears and snot. Next time I should bring tissues.

Wednesday night Priscilla came over to my home, where my mom, as customary, cooked us way more food than we could eat. I miss my mom's cooking. Especially considering how pitiful my own cooking is.

Finally, the trip was a nice mid-week break for me, after which I had to work only two more days until the weekend came around. I'd definitely volunteer to attend any future UCLA events that AST decides to visit. It's win-win all around.
Happy Halloween - Friday, October 31, 2008
This Friday was a harrowing, hauntingly horrifying Halloween. Well not really, but we did have a power outage at work around 3:10pm that crippled four out of our five buildings. Interestingly, I was in the middle of playing a haunted house Halloween game when it happened. All of a sudden, my monitor started fading, my computer sputtered to death, and the lights flickered out. For a quarter of a second I thought the haunt had come to life.

(Un)fortunately, there was no ETA on restoration of power, so not being able to do our work, most people soon left for the day. I shot hoops in the parking lot with a co-worker for an hour, after which I returned to my office to get my stuff. There were some emergency lights on but they were starting to get dim, and walking through a corridor that was completely dark felt kind of eerie in a horror film way. Like something was going to jump out and grab me and eat my face. Needless to say, I didn't stay in there long.

Well, that was a fun way to end the week on a Halloween note. I don't think that happens too often. =)
Becky Pippert and the Computer History Museum - Friday, November 14, 2008
This past weekend Priscilla made a spontaneous visit, having gotten a ride from Justin from Horizon and his brother Helicon who were visiting family in Fremont.

She joined me Saturday afternoon at Abundant Life Church for the final three hours of a conference by Rebecca Manley Pippert on the topic of sharing our faith. Becky was an awesome speaker and her inspirational stories and practical steps to evangelism really inspired me. Best of all, the conference costs were covered entirely by the church, making attendance free for all.

On Sunday we visited the Computer History Museum and watched a live demonstration of the Babbage Difference Engine #2, which is on loan to the museum until next year. Then we joined a tour for a short while and listened to a docent talk about IBM's origin as the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, ENIAC, and the SAGE enemy aircraft tracking system.

The rest of the weekend we cooked, studied, and had fun just doing simple things. Nothing too crazy. We'll save that for Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving Break - Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I drove down to LA for Thanksgiving with Uncle Tim and Aunt Helena. We left the Bay Area around 5am on Thanksgiving Day, so traffic wasn't too bad. They wanted to return the following Tuesday, so I didn't really have a choice. At least the holiday travelers had dissipated by then. Along the way I also saw the moon in a rad orange light.

On Friday, I joined a bunch of CCAC people at a park in Jerry Woo's residential community for a confusing game of flag football, followed by a BBQ and playing Set at his house. I did pretty well at Set, I think because one of my teachers made us play it back in elementary school.

On Saturday, Priscilla did her third Slave Day. It wasn't anything big- just miniature golfing, gyros, buying flowers and writing cards for our moms, cleaning her room, and making food. I'm glad that we can have fun doing even the small things with each other. I'll do my second Slave Day soon, but I did take her to Catalina for our 6-month anniversary and Carmel for our 1.5 year anniversary- that better count for something!
It's C-C-C-Cooold - Friday, December 19, 2008
California has been having some pretty cold weather these past few weeks. And it's most likely not going to end soon.

Cold weather usually doesn't bother me too much, but tonight I left work in the late hours of the night to find my car frozen, with the rain from this morning having turned into ice. My windshield was covered with a thin layer that I had to scrape off, and even then I had a hard time seeing through it while driving. Not the most ideal of conditions.

But perhaps most entertaining, was the discovery that my sliding door was frozen shut. But it did open a crack- just enough to make the door-open indicator stay on the whole drive back home. Once I got back, I gave my car a good garden hose thawing.

I'm sure people in places like the East Coast deal with these occurences all the time. Heck, maybe even people in the Bay Area. It is my first winter out of LA, after all.

The plus side of this cold weather, is that I'm going snowboarding in Tahoe this weekend with a bunch of CCIC people. I borrowed a lot of gear from a snowboard-holic friend, so I saved quite a bit of money, which I can then spend on better things like blowing it all at a seedy casino. ;)
Snowboarding - Monday, December 22, 2008
Looks like I came back in one piece.

I went snowboarding with some CCIC people this past Saturday at Northstar at Tahoe. It was mad fun, though I probably set the record in our group for the most falls, falling every 10 seconds or so. Unknown to me, the slope we were going down was the easy slope, not the bunny slope. I found out on the second run. So I probably could kill the bunny slope now.

Nonetheless, I never thought snowboarding was so cardio-intensive! Every run down the hill left me wiped out. I guess that's how out of shape I am. Better incorporate some more cardio at the gym before I die of a heart attack.

The thing I had trouble with most was turning heel-side. I got around this mostly by turning toe-side until I was horizontal to the slope, then going back down with the opposite foot in front. It's called doing a "falling leaf" apparently. At least I did better than the first time I went, several years ago.

We stayed at the Silver Legacy in nearby Reno that night. Anticipating the huge appetite we would've worked up, Steve took us to buffet at the Eldorado. The selection was pretty big, and I ate a decent amount, but not as much as I had hoped. I can't seem to eat as much at buffets as I could in college. I guess I'm getting old.